Thursday, November 17, 2011

More false claims by Hoagland

          At the conclusion of last night's Coast-to-Coast AM news segment, featuring "science adviser" Richard Hoagland, George Noory said "Richard C. Hoagland predicted this 30 years ago  ... and he was right."

          He was referring to this announcement about Europa, the icy-smooth moon of Jupiter. Earlier, on Faceboodle, Hoagland himself had said the same:
I will be on "Coast" tonight ... discussing NASA's latest announcement re "the apparent existence of LAKES, just under the surface ice of Europa, Jupiter's second major moon" -- and how this new data could impact the search for life in the much larger, still unconfirmed, "global oceans of Europa."

Thirty-two years ago, I scientifically predicted the existence of such a "global ocean" under the ice fields of Europa, and examined the possibilities for advanced biology.
           This is far from being the first time Hoagland has boasted that he predicted, in a long, long article in Star and Sky Magazine in January 1980, not only the sub-surface oceans but also the possibility that they might harbor alien life-forms. He's mentioned it countless times on C2C and written about it on his amazingly retro web site.

          So what's the truth? The truth is that George Noory was dead wrong. Hoagland did not predict what was announced yesterday in Nature online by Britney Schmidt, Wes Patterson, Don Blankenship, and Paul Schenk. Hoagland himself, in his FB post, managed not to be exactly wrong by means of very careful choice of language, but he was certainly, and intentionally, misleading.

Oceans and lakes
          In fact, Schmidt et al's new model is not about the oceans Hoagland described in 1980. Technically, he was correct in writing that the ocean is "still unconfirmed," although it would be hard to find a planetary astronomer to dissent from this widely-accepted idea. The recent controversy has been over the thickness of the surface ice on Europa. A kilometer or so, or 30 km?1 The answer matters a lot for exobiology, because under the thick-ice model it's hard to see how nutrients and energy could circulate. The new idea posits thick ice, but lakes inside the ice crust. And it's in those lakes, not the main ocean below, that the scientists now suggest life is a possibility.

Image Credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel FX/University of Texas at Austin

So Hoagland was adrift in writing about the search for life in the oceans.

What did he actually write back in 1980? Well, this, for example:

Primeval Jupiter, with a magnetic field significantly weaker than at present ... would have interacted with Europa in a manner highly reminiscent of the present Io situation: an intense several-million-ampere current, under high voltage, set up between both Europan poles and the conductive Jovian "photosphere" below. The result staggers the imagination.

Beyond heating the atmosphere above the poles this massive current would have led inexorably to a set of side effects unparalleled on Earth -- like brilliant night and day aurorae constantly aflame across the polar skies, potential discharge processes between the upper atmosphere and the surface of Europa, massive "superbolts" of lightning, even in clear air. And one more thing: An inescapable set of organic synthesis reactions between the major and minor constituents within this atmosphere!2
          The million-amp current is a fiction. It doesn't exist, and it doesn't need to exist for biogenesis to have credibility. Sufficient energy to keep the ocean liquid is provided by tidal heating.

          Hoagland recognized that fact when it came to the heart of the matter—his actual prediction of the global ocean and the possible life it might contain:

There, in the tidal calculations, was the provocative potential that beneath a thin, outer shell of ice, the bulk of Europa's planetary ocean was still ocean. It may not have frozen solid as Jupiter grew dim. The ever-present tidal forces from that immense planetary object, even at the distance of Europa, are capable of adding energy to the massive, frozen crust -- energy which, disspiated in the crust, maintain the bulk of that satellite-wide sea as liquid water!

If true, the continued existence of the solar system's deepest planetary ocean ... presents us with a staggering set of possibilities, including the independent evolution beyond those pre-organic chemicals and acids into the object of our centuries-long quest: the solar system's second world with life.3
          Fine. Yes, he predicted it. What he didn't do, and still doesn't, and did not do last night on the radio, is to credit the numerous planetary scientists who had predicted it well before January 1980. The literature on Europa includes a paper by John S. Lewis from 19714 making the same suggestion, and one by Cassen, Peale and Reynolds actually entitled "Is There Liquid Water on Europa?" from September 19795. Hoagland's critics have pointed to the latter paper, which used closely similar language to the Star and Sky article, as a highly likely direct source. Hoagland acknowledged Cassen, Peale and Reynolds in his piece but made it seem as though only he, Richard C. Hoagland, had had the insight to interpret their work as meaning probable oceans and possible biology. That was not true.

          As we know, Richard Hoagland, not actually being the scientist he claims to be, very seldom answers his critics. He prefers to ignore them and hope his know-it-all manner will get him by. Specifically on the question of precedence on Europa's ocean, the critics have included Gary Posner and Ralph Greenberg, and Hoagland has made an exception, answering that he never claimed to have been the first to make the prediction. Another critic, Phil Plait, has investigated that proposition and found it to be false.

          In light of Hoagland's recent prevarications about Deepwater Horizon, Phobos, Vesta, Elenin, and YU55 (see numerous postings on this blog passim) nobody could honestly be surprised that this is another case of Hoagland preening in utter disregard for the truth.


           Last night (17th November) Hoagland removed all doubt that he is still making false claims, posting in Facelandia:
[M]y late friend, Arthur C. Clark, graciously acknowledged in "2010" that the initial idea for "life in Europa's oceans"--

Came from ME. :)

Arthur C. Clarke (note correct spelling) was mistaken, as Ralph Greenberg noted ten years ago:
On June 19th and 20th, 1979, the conference "Life in the Universe" took place at NASA's Ames Research Center. Benton Clark gave a lecture [titled] Sulfur: Fountainhead of Life in the Universe...

Clark then explained how sulfur could play the role of oxygen, and that deep-sea volcanic emissions could potentially provide all the necessary ingredients for a self-sustained ecosystem. In the final part of his lecture, Clark raised the possibility that life might exist in undersurface oceans on the icy satellites in our Solar System, including Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto in particular. 
There's more at the Greenberg and Plait links above.

1.Billings, Sandra E.; and Kattenhorn, Simon A. (2005). "The great thickness debate: Ice shell thickness models for Europa and comparisons with estimates based on flexure at ridges". Icarus 177 (2): 397–412. Bibcode 2005Icar..177..397B. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2005.03.013

2.  Star and Sky Magazine, January 1980, p.23

3.  Star and Sky Magazine, January 1980, p.28

4.  "Satellites of the Outer Planets: Their Physical and Chemical Nature." Icarus,  vol.15, 1971.

5. Geophysical Research Letters,  Vol. 6, September 1979


Chris Lopes said...

Yes he continues to claim (and pretend he isn't when pushed) that it is "his" model that NASA is following. Arthur C. Clarke took the bait on this one when he credited Hoagland for the idea in 2010. So it's understandable that Noory wouldn't know the truth.

What I really found amusing though, was Hoagland's inclusion of HD physics in the deal. Apparently the HD physics qualities of Jupiter could make the life on Europa really big, because that's (the HD physics part, not Jupiter) what made the dinosaurs so big. When he mentioned a similar idea in his presentation at an earlier conference in England (it's the one with the really bad youtube video) he claimed it had something to do with less gravity. Yeah, quite bazaar.

astroguy said...

I'm normally a fairly civil person. But Hoaxland makes me want to curse.

Chris Lopes said...


That is a well justified reaction in this case. The people who made this discovery were hard working scientists who had the mental discipline to get a university level education, the idealism to use that education in the pursuit of knowledge, and the perseverance to work for years on a research project that might not lead anywhere. They deserve better than to have a wanna-be try to take credit for something he had nothing to do with.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I guess "something wonderful" IS coming, but from Elenin now - oh wait, I mean YU55 - no wait, sorry, I meant to say Europa..........


Chris Lopes said...

This is a matter of out right fraud. It's not like Hoagland doesn't know about the prior work, he even insisted he referenced it (in a rant about Greenberg on TEM) in his original article. So he knows he is lying, not just mistaken. He is trying to steal the scientific credit (and amongst the faithful, succeeding) of those who did the real work. It's (like much to do with Hoagland) pathetic.

BTW, has anyone tried to inform George Noory of this nonsense?

expat said...

I e'd George yesterday, high priority, referencing this post. No reply.

I get a one- or two-word reply from GN once out of ten or so messages. When I protested about his flagrant conflict of interest in the matter of the Bara interview, for instance, he replied "Don't agree."

F.C. Trevor Gale said...

What is truly amazing to me as a qualified engineer is just how little Hoagland appears, demonstrably, to know about such things as Voltage (volts), Current (amps), Power (watts), Resistance (ohms), Conductivity, Radiation, in fact any electromagnetics at all. If one imagines all these millions of volts at a staggering millions of amps flowing around one could be excused to believe that an enormous number of watts is involved here (W = V x I) and wonder just what resistance might be involved for this to be occurring. Even if this were true, just how much electromagnetic radiation would be generated due to the path? Enough to be easily detected from even inside my wine cellar I would propound! Yet I hear nothing of this from authorities "in the know" or perhaps that should be written as "the secret society" at all.
Now, when I radiate (legally) say just 400W of radiation from one of the television transmitters of mine, given the expected and calculable antenna gain in a given direction, I can reasonably easily find out what the field strength in uW / m^2 will be at a given distance M away and if I measure that I'll usually by experience not be too far wrong in my calculations, either. Hoagland wrote, to sub-quote: "Primeval Jupiter, with a magnetic field significantly weaker than at present ... (would have) an intense several-million-ampere current, under high voltage ... between both Europan poles and the conductive Jovian "photosphere" below." Please forgive my obvious ignorance, but as a merely stupid member of the public when compared with such honourably learned and experienced individuals such as Hoagland and his colleagues then I must assume that with Jupiter having now a significantly stronger magnetic field that I should fear for my life and for all those near and dear to me upon this planet Earth, for it is now clear to me that Jovian life forms will rapidly evolve to take over our world as we know it. I mean, such a knowledgeable expert could not possibly be very wrong could he?
Therein lies the real danger in my opinion - not everybody can be expected to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of such physics principles at whatever scale, even if they are casually interested in it, and the spread of such claims, nonsense and what I have come to term "Hoagwash" together with his colleagues' "Barashit" is in danger of becoming believed as true, analysed and proven fact by many people to the detriment of the collective understanding of mankind. It is a sorry and situation indeed and I am glad that at least some effort like this blog is made to dispel some of the untruths.

Biological_Unit said...

An electrical interaction between Jupiter and its moons means that they are charged bodies and are not electrically neutral. Jupiter exists in a dynamic electrical relationship to the Sun and it is now known that charged particles from the Sun and not “electric dynamos” power the planetary aurorae. Just like the aurorae, the ring system on Jupiter is probably behaving in similar fashion to what is seen on Saturn, so a similar explanation is most likely correct.

Anonymous said...


I will be on C2C tonight.

To explain how I, conducted the experiment

That proves Einstein was wrong.....

And I am right.....

Stay tuned..

jourget said...

Seems as though the 1980 article was back from when he was trying to (unsuccessfully) get accepted as a legitimate researcher. Look at all those sentences full of, if nothing else, well-constructed syntax!

Now, he's decided that he can make a lot more money by technobabbling to those who don't know any better. The income has apparently allowed him to buy a collection of shotguns full of inappropriate quotation marks and



Chris Lopes said...

It has also allowed him to by a special keyboard that RANDOMLY generates ALL CAPS to let us know WHEN he really MEANS what he IS saying. Quite ANNOYING really. :)

expat said...

I'm perhaps more irritated than I should be by Hoagland's habit of prefixing any mention of Arthur C. Clarke or Carl Sagan with "My late friend..." or "My dear friend..."

It's most likely that he had a passing professional relationship with those gentlemen that was warm and satisfying, and that was the extent of it.

Was he invited into their homes for meals? Did he invite them to his home? Did their spouses know his spouse? Did he know the first name of their secretaries or assistants? Did he have ALL their phone numbers?

These are questions I feel certain we will never get answers to.

Chris Lopes said...

I doubt Hoagland knew either of those men on more than a superficial level. Clarke spent most of his time on Sri Lanka so it's hard to imagine when and where they'd have spent any quality time together. With Sagan, it seems most of his friends were fellow scientists, so I don't see them traveling in the same circles either.

About the only "old friend" I might buy is Gene Roddenberry. Hoagland is a big trek fan. Since Roddenberry had a habit of cultivating fans who might of use to him, I can see a connection there.

The thing is, all three gentlemen have a special place in Hoagland's narrative, that kind of negates whatever "friendship" he might of have had (or not had) with them. They were all supposedly "in the know" with Clarke needing a NASA mender (Gentry Lee) for the Rama sequels, and Sagan being "knocked off" for suggesting (a little) that Cydonia was worth a look in Demon Haunted World (anyone who has actually read the book knows Sagan was not endorsing the "face"). Not the kind of things you say about "old friends".

expat said...

Well observed, Jourget. The italics in both passages I quoted were all his. Perhaps a little didactic, at least for my taste, but nothing compared with the RAMPANT OVER-EMPHASIS of his style in "Dark Mission." The book would be unreadable on those grounds alone even if it were technically accurate.

Biological_Unit said...

Your Illustration shows "faulting" NOT consistent with what is seen on Europa.
Can repeatedly breaking ice produce extensive parallel grooves with levees?

Biological_Unit said...

NONE of the patterns seem on Europa's ice match anything seen on Earth ice.

Anonymous said...

did someone mention Einstein was wrong.... that man wrong from the start..was/is he not also accused of plagiarism....? and where is the kncklehard scientific proof that nothing...yes NOTHING...can or may travel faster than the speed of light...? Be gone with him :-)


Biological_Unit said...

Being a freelance online writer is 1% content and 99% shameless self promotion

Biological_Unit said...

Einstein’s postulates are wrong. Matter has no effect on empty space. Space is three-dimensional—something our senses tell us. There is a universal clock so time travel and variable aging is impossible—something that commonsense has always told us. But most important—the universe is connected and coherent.

just gossiping ...

Anonymous said...

I agree with on Einstein besides that he was a incestuous fraud and this being a forum about people making false claims and plagiarism's :-)

but you see...since you mentioned something like a universal clock...or clocks in general...the problem with clock's is that they don't measure anything but themselves...with a reference clock on which they where set or programmed....

So do enlighten us with your postulation

taking the bate on your little gossip....